If you are a good photographer, but it’s only a hobby, you can still make money by selling your work to stock photo sites and art galleries. But there’s yet another avenue that brings in the dough and also gives you good publicity. Who knows, it might even prompt you to become a full-time photographer, too. Just follow these guidelines and you could end up winning more than one photography contest.
The first step
Google your way to knowing the different kinds of photography contests available. First, decide where your strength lies. Is it wildlife, portraits, landscapes or culture, among others. There is a contest for everything. Now Google keywords like ‘wildlife photography contests’. Then again, some contests are just a money-making exercise, so opt for those that don’t have an entry fee. If you are good at social networking, opt for contests where online voters decide the outcome of the contest. But if you are truly creative, go for contests that have an eminent panel picking the best of the lot.
Research is crucial to winning contests, particularly if the judges remain the same for all the contests. In such scenarios, it’s best to look through the prize winning photos of previous contests. Look for the genre, technicalities, composition, brightness and contrast, among other things. Look for clues to unravelling the bias of the judges involved. Some might prefer colorful landscapes as opposed to striking portraits. Some may prefer the wacky and the uncommon, while some might prefer the tried and tested. Decoding the underlying bias is like winning half the contest.
Create new folders based on the different themes of contests. Now, go through your collection and pick photos that are top-rung attention getters. Slot them in the relevant category. Your best has to be up front – first impressions count in contests, too. While some contests allows basic touch-ups, extensive Photoshop work to create surreal or special effect images are frowned upon. So read the rules of the game, before you try to manipulate the image in any manner. Standard contrast, exposure and white balance are permissible.
Get a head start once you decide where to contest, but if your entry is too close to the deadline, take part in the next contest. It’s best to come in first, so the judges or the online voters, have ample time to visit your page and vote you. Avoid posting images in the middle of the contest. It should be first or last, but never the middle.
If your stuff is based on online votes, it’s time to push all the buttons on your social networking sites. Ask family, friends and friends of friends to vote for your picture, so you can win a certain prize. While some might call this contest rigging, it’s not really the case, because the sites want to generate traffic to their sites through contests like these. It’s all fair.
Remember, contests are not just about winning, it’s about taking part and learning where you stand. Looking at other entries will give you hints on how to improve your photography, and best of all, you will get your family and friends to know your lensmanship like never before.
~Zahid H Javali